On Wednesday, Spotify announced that it will now include a series of third-party apps within its desktop service as part of the newly coined “Spotify Platform.” Eleven of those apps launched yesterday (more will roll out in time) and we downloaded them all, so you don’t have to.
Check out our rundown of the goods below, along with our assessment of their relative rad-ability.
1). BILLBOARD TOP CHARTS
This is a pretty useful app for popular music lovers. You can check out a playable version of Billboard’s music charts (Hot 100, Billboard 200, R&B/Hip-Hop Songs, Country Songs, Rock Songs) and subscribe to them as well. (This is actually cooler than saving charts as playlists, as they will, in theory, change as the actual Billboard charts do.) You can also share charts via social networks.
The app is pretty basic, but is definitely a cool tool. Also, in order to see the full chart, you have to visit Billboard itself, which should drive some traffic to the site.
Should You Nab It?: If the music on the Billboard charts is your cuppa, go right ahead!
The Fuse app is basically a series of music news-themed playlists (IE, Lily Allen had a baby! Here’s some songs about babies!). It’s not all that innovative an app, but should be a good source for people looking for curated tunes.
Should You Nab It?: If you already dig Fuse, sure.
3). THE GUARDIAN
Read reviews from the The Guardian’s critics and listen to the album in question. The idea is pretty cool — try it before you buy it — but at present there aren’t that many reviews to choose from. Also, there are a couple of repeats in the app (why are there two reviews of Aa Bondy’s Believers? Rihanna also shows up twice for Talk That Talk). It also seems a little random. Why The Guardian? Are they particularly known for their music reviews?
Should You Nab It?: Ehhh…
Naturally, this app will work better if you’re a Last.fm user (which I am not). I created yet another Last.fm account when I signed up and the app immediately started recommending bands to me based on my Spotify listening history and library. I could then go through and listen to tunes, “Love” them in Last.fm, and therefore garner even more music recs. One cool feature allows you to save all of the app’s recs as a playlist, so you can sync it for offline listening and sort through new jams.
Should You Nab It?: If you’re really into Last.fm or need new music recommendations, yes.
This app purports to create playlists centered around your mood. When you fire it up, it shows you your top tracks and asks you if you would like to create playlists pertaining to the moods of those songs. Oddly, though, none of the tracks offered were my “Top Tracks,” and those I did click on yielded error messages. When I searched for tracks, however, the app worked much better. Although it did categorize Kurt Vile’s “Baby’s Arms” as “Angry,” which seemed rather incorrect to me. Neon Indian’s “Deadbeat Summer” is also apparently “Angry.” The playlists created from those seeds seemed to mostly be composed of bands similar to Vile and Neon Indian, which doesn’t seem to really have anything to do with mood. All in all, I probably wouldn’t use this app.
Should You Nab It?: Ehh…
While we get what The Guardian was going for by partnering with Spotify, the Pitchfork app makes a lot more sense than the other publication’s iteration — in that it has a ton of content.
If you’re a huge music fan, you probably spend hours scouring Pitchfork’s Best New Album list, laboriously deciding what to look up on Spotify/iTunes/etc. Now, you can listen to the full album right then and there. You can also surf through all reviews and listen to tracks, and — this is really awesome — access Pitchfork playlists like “The Top 500 Tracks of the 2000s.”
If all of Pitchfork’s content were available in the app — which it is not — then one would probably just read the site via Spotify, thereby negating the free downloads and streams the blog offers. But since Pitchfork is keeping a close hold on its cards (it is an independent entity, afterall), the whole deal makes for a kind of split reading experience: “OK, I’ll read this long article and these new items on Pitchfork, and then jam on over to Spotify.”
Granted, this is method is much less of a pain in the ass then writing down all the albums you want to check out and hauling yourself down to the record store, but it is something to think about in terms of usability.
Should You Nab It?: Most definitely. But maybe Pitchfork should limit how much content it’s divorcing from its main site.
7). ROLLING STONE RECOMMENDS
RS’s app is pretty similar to Pitchfork’s: Check out the best new albums and songs of the week, as well as playlists curated by the magazine. This app seems like more of a standalone product than the Pitchfork version, probably because Rolling Stone is not only an online entity. I can easily see a subscriber to the magazine firing it up while reading and checking out tunes that pique his/her interest.
Should You Nab It?: Sure.
SongKick is an awesome app. I love how it integrates with my iTunes to tell me what artists are playing near me and when, providing me with a personalized concert list. Now, you can do the same via Spotify. Just let the app scan your Spotify library and it serves up a handy lists of recent shows (both past and present) in your area.
You also get the added benefit of being able to listen to tracks from the artist in question. It would be cool if you could share that playlist of tracks with a friend — a kind of, “Hey, we should see this band and here’s why” deal.
Granted, the usefulness of the app depends on how much you use Spotify. If you’re a heavy iTunes user, than the SongKick desktop or mobile app will be more useful. If you use Spotify, well, then this version is for you.
It would be REALLY killer if all versions of the app could meld and scan both iTunes and Spotify, which is where the fact that Spotify’s apps function within a walled garden is a painfully obvious flaw. Maybe this could be remedied when the apps go mobile? Let’s hope so.
Should You Nab It?: For sure.
Spotify gets more social with Soundrop, allowing you to create listening rooms based on playlists and invite friends to DJ and chat along with you. You can also join a ton of public rooms and listen and DJ along with other Spotify users. Just add a track to the room playlist, and other users can vote up the songs that they want to hear.
In terms of gameplay aspects (popular in services like Turntable.fm) that’s all the competition there is. Still, we like the potential of the app as a source for music discovery. Naturally, you can add the whole room playlist to your library, which is pretty cool. When you’re listening in TT.fm, you can add individual tracks to Spotify, but it seems much more efficient to yoink a whole listening session if you’re so inclined.
Should You Nab It?: Sure, if you have friends and whatnot.
This app is pretty useful for folks who like karaoke or who play in cover bands. If you’re listening to a song and want to know the lyrics, just click on the app. You can also sync the lyrics to the song manually. The app is pretty cool, but mobile apps like Shazam and SoundHound both have real-time lyrics built in, which is more useful.
Should You Nab It?: Maybe on a rainy day.
The WeAreHunted Spotify app is basically a really stripped-down version of the website, which is an awesome music discovery tool replete with playable charts and playlists. If you’re looking to just deep dive and find new music, we would recommend sticking to the online version, but if you need to augment your musical library, the app is worth a download.
While the Billboard app lets you subscribe to playlists, the WeAreHunted version only allows you to save charts as playlists — therefore, playlists remain static. This seems like a bit of a failing, but if you really like the lineup on a given day, it’s nice to be able to cement it. You can also hit up “Instant Playlist” to create a track listing inspired by a chosen artist.
This app makes it really easy to load up on a ton of new music, which we love. Bonus: The UI of the app — like the WeAreHunted website — is pretty attractive, featuring tiled pictures of the all the artists.
Should You Nab It?: For sure.
By Brenna Ehrlich